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WWT, London Wetland Centre, kids in water vole tunnel.
WWT London Wetland Centre

Ten great things for families to do in London this summer

Round up the kids, load up on sunscreen and get ready to explore all the fantastic things that London has to offer over the holidays

Written by Time Out. Paid for by Transport for London
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Summer is well and truly here, which means there's a host of brilliant activities and events on your doorstep. The school holidays is a time for discovery and fun – which is where we come in, along with Transport for London. 

What's more, thanks to TfL’s off-peak fares (single adult pay as you go fares start from £1.50), plus free and discounted travel for little ones, it’s never been easier or more affordable to explore all the cultural goings-on in London.

Overwhelmed with options? We’ve taken a look at ten to get you started...

Remember to check TfL Journey Planner before you travel. 
 

              

Crack the code at the London Transport Museum

Why it’s great: The Covent Garden spot is hosting six weeks of STEM-inspired events perfect for all the family. And with kids going free and adult tickets lasting a whole year, you could even make it a regular outing.

Why you should go: School may be over for the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t combine a fun activity with a side of education. Coding and other digital and experimental activities are on the agenda at this daily workshop, with visitors able to have a go at coding and discovering how the tech keeps London’s transport on the move.

Good for: Ages 3-12.

Getting there: Piccadilly line to Covent Garden.

Dates: July 20-September 1.

Price: Adults £16.50 in advance online/£18 on the door, 17 and under free. Adult tickets valid for unlimited visits for 12 months.

Take a dip in Hyde Park

Why it’s great: When the sun is shining and London is basking in a summer heatwave, you might be looking for an outdoor spot for to cool off in. The Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park is a great location and is open every day of the week during the school holidays.

Why you should go: Perfect for families, the Serpentine Lido has a dedicated children’s play area that includes swings, a slide, climbing frame and paddling pool.

Good for: All ages.

Getting there: Piccadilly line to Knightsbridge.

Price: Free, Serpentine Lido £4.80 adults, children £1.80.

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Why it’s great: This 336-acre slice of ancient woodland – one of the last remaining sections of the Forest of Essex – is a lush wonderland of wildlife and plants. Plus, there’s a petting zoo, boating lake and adventure play area.  

Why you should go: There’s nothing like a day of full forest immersion to restore your balance – and little ones will love the chance to spot turtle doves and butterflies. (Shh: is that a nightingale behind those trees?). On September 14, the park will host a screening of ‘Mamma Mia’, thanks to Essex Outdoor Cinema. 

Good for: All ages.

Getting there: Central line to Hainault then 247 bus. 

Price: Free.

Why it’s great: The Wonderlab at the Science Museum is home to more than 50 exhibits, shows and demos that bring physics, biology and chemistry to life in front of your eyes.

Why you should go: One of the daily shows, Live Wire!, will spark any child’s imagination as they learn how the power of electricity reaches the plug socket. Who knows? You might even learn something.

Good for: Ages 6-10.

Getting there: District or Circle line to South Kensington. 

Price: Free to enter, The Wonderlab from £8 (includes daily shows).

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Why it’s great: Get in on the action – because a big screen is pitching up at the iconic Leicester Square Gardens. Plant yourself on a deckchair on a bean-bag and enjoy a movie marathon.

Why you should go: The film listings are varied enough that they’ll keep even the fidgetiest kids and adults occupied. Plus, there’s a great opportunity to sing along with old and new Disney Classics such as Beauty and the beast and Frozen.

Good for: All ages.

Getting there: Picadilly or Northern line to Leicester Square.

Dates: August 8-August 11.

Price: Free.

Why it’s great: Lame kids’ party with Baby Shark on repeat this ain’t. The Outdoor Family Rave by Big Fish Little Fish has serious musical chops. Expect four hours of (dad) dancing to the best acid house, techno and drum and bass.

Why you should go: The party at the Horniman Museum and Gardens includes sets by the legendary DJs Alex Paterson (The Orb) and Aphrodite, and finishes with a colour powder throw finale.

Good for: All ages.

Getting there: Overground to Forest Hill.

Date: Sunday July 28.

Price: £15, children £12.50. Pre-walking infants free.

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Why it’s great: Located in an unsuspecting spot in the middle of Camden, Kentish Town City Farm is a miniature oasis jam packed with the who’s who of a petting zoo, including goats, pigs and chickens.

Why you should go: Let the children get back to nature and book them on to a week-long course where they can learn the ropes of rural life. Alternatively, swing by on a Saturday for a pony ride.

Good for: All ages.

Getting there: Overground to Gospel Oak.

Price: Free.

Jump for joy (even if it’s raining)

Why it’s great: If the weather isn’t playing ball, you might be looking for an indoor activity to tire the children out with. Enter freejumping at Oxygen. An hour-long session of bouncing and boinging on the site’s 150-interconnected trampolines should do the trick.

Why you should go: The Acton spot is great for all ages, and even hosts a Little O session for toddlers.

Good for: All ages.

Getting there: Central line to West Acton. 

Price: £15.50, toddler sessions £6 for toddlers and adults.

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Why it’s great: One of Britain’s favourite nature reserves, the 100-acre Wetland Centre in Barnes is home to some of the rarest birds in London, which can’t be seen anywhere else in the city.

Why you should go: This summer, the site is putting on a host of wetland challenges, including pond dipping, a trail map and a swamp survival squad. Pick up a log book at Wetland HQ to discover all the water-based fun on offer.

Good for: All ages.

Getting there: District line to Putney Bridge, then 485 bus. 

Price: Adults from £11.70, children under four free.

Why it’s great: There’s something for all ages at this Grade I-listed Elizabethan merchant’s house – which, according to local legend, was where the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was conceived. There are guided tours (some by costumed interpreters), lovely gardens for summer picnics and children’s trails available at reception. 

Why you should go: Head to Eastbury on Sunday August 18 for Eastbury’s Summer Fête. The gardens will be filled with live music, arts and craft stalls and tasty treats from the Eastbury Kitchen. There’ll be craft activities for kids, which cost £3 per child. 

Good for: All ages.

Getting there: District line to Upney.

Price: £5.20, children £2.60. 

Get around easily with TfL

Your guide to the wonderful world of off-peak

Your guide to the wonderful world of off-peak

Thanks to TfL's off-peak fares and fantastic discounts for kids, getting out and about in London as a family is super-affordable. Off-peak fares apply on all Tube, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail services. You can tap into the wonderful world of off-peak every weekday before 6.30am, between 9.30am and 3.59pm, and after 7pm. Off-peak fares also apply all day at weekends and on public holidays. Always touch in and out with the same card or device to pay the right fare. Touch in only on buses and trams. To check a fare, visit TfL’s single fare finder.

Kids travel free!
All kids under 11 can travel free at any time on buses and trams.

Up to four kids under 11 can travel free at any time on Tube, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail services when accompanied by an adult.

An adult is anyone 16 and over using an adult rate ticket (but not a Group Day Travelcard), pay as you go or travel concession.

Apply for your Zip Oyster photocard today!
With a Zip Oyster photocard, kids aged 5-10 travel free on all Tube, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail services, while 11-15 year-olds can travel free on buses and trams, and travel at half the adult rate on all other TfL services. Apply for a Zip Oyster photocard today at tfl.gov.uk/zip.

Travel in Zones 2-6 for £1.50 
Fare shown is for an adult off-peak pay as you go journey not going via Zone 1 on Tube, DLR and most London Overground services.

Travel into Zone 1 from £2.40 
Fare shown is for an adult off-peak pay as you go journey from Zone 2 into Zone 1.

Travel by bus or tram for just £1.50 
TfL’s Hopper fare lets you take unlimited pay as you go bus and tram journeys within one hour of first touching in for just £1.50.

Your key to more London adventures

The interactive Cultural TfL Map reveals more than 800 Time Out-recommended museums, galleries, street art works and more, all within a short walk or bus ride from each station. There are plenty of fantastic family-friendly experiences to be found, which you can visit during the wonderful world of off-peak. Explore now at timeout.com/culturaltflmap.

We know that affordable, convenient public transport is the key to accessing the best that London has to offer – and thanks to TfL’s affordable off-peak fares and other discounts across the network, the possibilities for adventure are wider than ever. Here, you'll find plenty more unexpected and exciting off-peak outings.

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